Do you think it’s too late for Obama to redeem himself, as this question seems to imply? If you were advising him, what would you say? And do you think insurgent movements like Occupy Wall Street can help re-inspire the progressive base?
Even President Obama seems to acknowledge the shift in power. Will these outside groups give Republicans a big advantage in 2012? And is Obama right to consider himself an “underdog?”
My Answer:Unfortunately for Democrats, the only antidote to democracy is more and better participation in democracy…Read More
Don’t get me wrong: I think religious literacy, as in knowing the history and beliefs of various religions including one’s own, is important for every citizen. And in answer to the question of whether voters should consider candidates’ religious beliefs, I should have added that people need to understand what each of the candidates’ religious beliefs are so as to understand better how that individual might govern. Beyond that…well, read on and let me know what you think.
Arena Asks: Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, writes that the religious beliefs of Republican presidential candidates should be a factor in voters’ decisions. Does Keller have a point? Or does this view, as conservative radiotalk show host Hugh Hewitt suggests, “stoke the fires of religious intolerance by turning this presidential campaign into the occasion for an inquisition into all of the Republicans’ religious beliefs?”
My Answer: I do not care what people believe. I care what they do…Read More
Psychology professor Drew Westen’s New York Times commentary “What Happened to Obama’s Passion?” is good supplementary reading for today’s Arena question. It’s the most on the mark piece I’ve read about Obama’s leadership and why we’re all feeling icky after the “deal.” I’ve been writing about Obama’s leadership problems since the start of his administration: “Is a Good Enough Stimulus Good Enough?”
To be fair, many of the constituency groups that supported him have been complicit in not holding his feet to the fire. But we know where the buck stops. I hope against pattern that he will listen to and learn from the S and P downgrade that you might as well go ahead and do what you know is right because your enemies are going to find a way to castigate your decision no matter what. A true leader stays ahead of the opposition and drives the agenda rather than responding and offering “deals.”
Arena Asks: The Treasury Department announced yesterday that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will remain in his post through President Obama’s reelection campaign. Is Geithner’s continued post a good thing for Obama’s re-election? Will voters see this decision as a step toward economic stability?Read More
Answering today’s question, I realized there are two distinctly different kinds of deals: those that produce new ideas and those that reduce all ideas to the lowest common denominator.
Arena Asks:Facing the imminent prospect of default, the White House and Senate Republicans worked through Sunday to close a debt ceiling deal that gives President Barack Obama greater certainty in managing the Treasury’s borrowing needs while making a joint commitment to major deficit reduction without any explicit concessions by the GOP on new tax revenues. Is this a good deal? Which side came out ahead?
My Answer: Unlike Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which created an expansive new vision for America, this Obama–Boehner–Tea Party Deal lowers our sights as a nation. It’s a deal in the negative, narrow, horse trading sense of the word. It is a leadership fail all around…Read More
I couldn’t resist answering this one. No wonder I don’t get my calls returned by the White House.
Arena Asks: Reporting long-simmering strains between President Barack Obama and his own liberal supporters. Progressives are upset about the White House’s verbal acceptance of a debt ceiling package tilted heavily toward spending cuts, along with this spring’s budget compromise, and the tax cut deal at the end of 2010. Do the president’s past supporters on the left have legitimate gripes? Will Obama face a primary challenge? Should he?
My Answer:Progressives have very legitimate gripes. But the way to vindicate them is to win decisively in House of Representatives races next year. Some stunning progressive victories over Tea Partiers would yield an emboldened Obama too. That’s the better use of progressive energy…Read More
Arena Asks: President Barack Obama called on the American people Monday night to send the message to Congress that it must approve a “balanced” approach to resolving the stalemate over the debt ceiling and deficit.
Will the president’s latest plea for a “fair” compromise spur lawmakers to a deal? Are these public appearances helping the president’s cause?
My Answer: Personally, I’m sick and tired of Obama’s “balanced” approach. I think he must put forward a much stronger agenda to draw the debate closer to his position and engage people emotionally in his vision for the future if he wants to break the logjam…
Arena Asked: Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) is drawing comparisons in her Republican presidential bid with another longshot candidate – Howard Dean, for a few months in 2003-04 the leading Democratic contender to challenge President George W. Bush. Both have drawn big summer crowds by pledging to confrontRead More
Today I posted my first commentary on Politico.com’s Arena page. I’m delighted to have been asked to be a panelist in this rousing and sometimes rowdy political conversation on the hottest topics of the day. Today’s question: At this point will House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) be able to make a deal with the White House and Senate Democrats without ticking off his base?Read More
I wrote this article as an exclusive to the Women’s Media Center, and reprint it here with permission. It can’t begin to describe the pain in my heart for those killed or injured, their families and extended networks of friends.
When an angry young man aimed his semiautomatic handgun at Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a Tucson Safeway store on Saturday, he didn’t just critically wound her and kill or wound 19 others. He fired a shot through the heart of American democracy.
It will fall to rising leaders like Giffords—and girls like nine-year-old Christina Green, killed by the assailant’s gunfire just days after she was elected to her school’s student council—to transform our political community to one where differences can be debated safely and policies decided without fear for anything but re-election prospects.
I feel a deeply personal connection to those horrendous events that occurred during the latest “Congress on Your Corner” public meeting the third-term Democratic congresswoman has held routinely in her district. Though I was witnessing them from New York, I’m a resident of Scottsdale, 120 miles north of Tucson, and from 1978 to 1996 was CEO of Planned Parenthood in Arizona. I know the state’s wild-west politics quite well. And I’m so familiar with violent extremist attacks upon reproductive health providers that my first reaction was to swing reflexively into “how can I keep colleagues safe and courageous” mode.
Ironically, a moment before the carnage, I was urging Arizona Democratic party activists via Facebook to stop arguing about arcane party rules and get on with fixing the state: to stand firm against roiling bigotry toward immigrants, slashing public education funds while advancing legislation to allow guns in schools, and other retrograde policies that threaten to make the state an object of derision throughout the country.
Almost immediately after the shootings, I received messages inviting me to a candlelight vigil at the state Capitol. It’s important for people to come together to share their grief while they are absorbing the reality of an unspeakable crime.
But as important as a candlelight vigil might be to heal the rips in our individual souls, healing the social fabric requires infinitely stronger threads.Read More